As more online brands are looking for methods to shift beyond third-party cookies as a way to gain more direct insights about their users and customers, a startup that has developed a platform to assist them has raised huge funding round. Bluecore, a marketing firm that uses direct marketing data such as email, social media, and website activity and combines that with machine learning to make better predictions as to who might want to buy what among its customers, today announces that it has raised $50million.
The funding will be used to create the next version of the Bluecore app, expected later this year, that will rely on aggregated activity data (but not actual browsing individuals) from “hundreds” of brands that consumers will combine with their own first-party data — based on content-driven, first-party consumer IDs — to develop better targeting insights.
He claims over 200 million products and SKUs are handled by the group, second only to Amazon’s and bigger than Walmart’s, that businesses can suit customer identities (from email and other direct channels). The Series D is led by Georgian Partners, with the participation of both FirstMark and Norwest. All three are current investors in the company and I clarified with Mohamood that it is a significant valuation leap on its previous valuation of $148 million (based on its $35 million Series C in 2017, per PitchBook), but still below $500 million. To date, the company has earned $110million.
The funding comes at a crucial moment in the martech world. This week the New York Times hit the headlines because of a switch it made to change its data collection operation from third-party to first-party data for advertising and other revenue-raising operations on its assets. Which is, to get the information, it’s using its own networks to collect information instead of relying on this world’s Google, Facebook, and other third-party data aggregators.
That tale was fascinating as it plays into what appears to be a phenomenon at the moment, where corporations are turning to first-party data to minimize their dependency on data that can be more difficult to track (and therefore theoretically falls short of a lot of privacy and data security measures), and partly also to improve their own businesses. Much like the NYT is developing this idea out in the media field, there’s been a lot of interest in this marketing region especially in the e-commerce environment, which is the segment Bluecore is focused on.
It’s a timely place to be: e-commerce has been on everyone’s minds late due to the pandemic, and there’s been a rise in activity on sites as consumers turn to the web to buy what they might have shopped for in a person before. But before the pandemic hit Bluecore was actually already on a roll.
This is a significant percentage, given how fragmented the e-commerce landscape is (once you remove Amazon from the equation, of course). Today its 400 customers include high profile names such as Sephora, CVS, Teleflora, and Tommy Hilfiger.
With the massive change to internet buying that we’ve witnessed take control in the planet, it’s no wonder that this has had a major effect on sales for businesses like Bluecore, which lets merchants but even marketers have a clearer picture of what’s going on as they can no longer see buyers, track footfall and market them as individuals.
And, it seems, the investors hit it home too. “Bluecore is unique in delivering the sophisticated artificial intelligence technologies that retailers need to address quickly evolving business environments,” Tyson Baber, Partner, Georgian Partners, said in a statement.
The funding comes on the heels of the company’s significant growth, and Bluecore believes that its platform and how it uses influences some 10 percent of all U.S. non-amazons Gross Merchandise Value (GMV).